With her athletes running on a familiar track in front of familiar faces, Blue Springs girls track coach Jennifer Reeder hoped they would relax, have fun and show what they could do Saturday.
By DAVE MCQUEEN
Special to The Star
Boy, did they ever.
All Reeder’s Wildcats did was take three of four relays, win four individual events and place state qualifiers in four others as they dominated the Class 4 girls competition at the Missouri Class 3 and 4 sectional track meets at Peve Stadium.
Had there been a team title (no team champion is crowned at sectionals), Blue Springs would have lapped the field. The Wildcats finished with a whopping 103.5 team points, 39.5 better than runner-up St. Teresa’s Academy. The top four individuals and relay teams qualify for next weekend’s Class 3 and 4 meets in Jefferson City.
“Honestly, as a team effort across the board, I haven’t coached a team that has been this successful in one day,” Reeder said. “I can’t ask my girls any more than to step up to the plate during crunch time, and they did that, and even more.”
Gabby Hall certainly did. The sophomore sprinter anchored Blue Springs’ victorious 800- and 400-meter relay teams and almost brought them victory in the 1,600 relay. The 800 and 1,600 teams set school records, and the 400 team’s 48.37-second effort was 1.5 seconds better than it had run all season.
Hall also won a thrilling photo finish in the 200 in 25.33, with teammate Jazmin McCoy’s fourth place time only 0.13 seconds slower. McCoy, who also ran on the 400 relay, won the 100 and the long jump. The Wildcats also got a first place out of Tyra Bickham in the discus.
Hall, it turns out, had some extra incentive. Her mother, who lives in Colorado, made a surprise visit to see her run.
“That girl was grinning from ear to ear,” Reeder said. “When Gabby knows she has tons of support here, she wants to make people happy. Her work ethic is awesome this year. She’s showing people when you stick to the plan, great things can happen.”
Blue Springs’ boys, not to be outdone, also had a big day in front of the home crowd. The Wildcats boys had four winners and qualified in 11 events and scored 98 points, 47 better than second-place Rockhurst. The Wildcats got a 1-2 finish in the 3,200 from Stephen Mugeche and Simon Belete and firsts from Donte Watkins in the long jump and Khalil Davis in the discus.
A Grand time for Grandview
Grandview’s boys should be in the hunt for a third consecutive Class 3 state title next weekend after a dominating performance Saturday. The Bulldogs won six events and had qualifiers in three others on the way to 111 team points.
Jaymes Kelly led the way for the Bulldogs with victories in the 100 (10.82), the 200 (21.96) and anchored their victorious 400 and 800 relays.
“He doesn’t even look like he’s running,” Grandview coach Andy Leech said. “That’s what’s amazing to me. He looks like he’s got more.”
Grandview had another double winner in Harvey Kendall, who took the 110 hurdles and the high jump.
Race of the day
When Roy Bay took the baton from his Truman teammate in the Class 4 boys 400 relay, he knew he had some work to do.
The Patriots had spent most of the race in the middle of the pack, and they were sitting fourth when it was Bay’s turn. All their anchor did was turn on the jets and nip Rockhurst at the finish line, giving his team a winning 42.11 time.
“I wasn’t worried because it was top four (to qualify), and I’ve had to play catch-up before,” Bay said. “That just destroys anything we ran. We had been high 42’s and to drop that bomb, that was nothing more than a blessing.”
Bay, a senior, won the 100 before the relay in 10.69. He closed out his day with an easy victory in the 200.
Logan Brattin of Lee’s Summit West already had the Class 4 boys pole vault title wrapped up when he decided to go for 14 feet, 9 inches. But on his second attempt, his pole shattered as he planted it in the box.
No problem. Brattin escaped injury, and after the pit crew cleared the shards of fiberglass, he tried again with another pole. He missed his third attempt, but since he shattered his pole on the second, he got an extra chance and cleared the height.
“That’s the first pole I’ve broken,” Brattin said. “I thought I’d broken the box at first, but the next thing I knew I was upside down with a broken pole in my hand.”
Asia Cole of Fort Osage showed why she’s one of the best in the state Saturday when she unleashed a 47-21/2 heave to win the Class 4 girls shot put. Cole’s mark bested second-place Tyra Bickham of Blue Springs by almost 4 feet.